House committee wants Drug Summit convened soon

MANILA — The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs is now coordinating with law enforcement agencies to hold a Drug Summit to ensure a uniform and systematic approach in addressing the problem of illegal drugs.

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), Committee Chairman, said they were now finalizing a request to agencies concerned in the campaign against illegal drugs to hold a Drug Summit soon.

The request is addressed to the Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Barbers said the last time the country had a Drug Summit was about 15 to 20 years ago before the passage of Republic Act 9165 or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”

The law mandates the government to pursue an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances through an integrated system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti-drug abuse policies, programs, and projects.

“We would like to request the inputs of the partner agencies so there would be a uniform, systematic and synergetic approach in addressing the problem of illegal drugs,” Barbers said.

The committee has been conducting hearings on the government’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign. Officials of law enforcement agencies briefed the committee about their mandates, operational goals, accomplishments, budgetary requirements, and capability upgrade, among others.

Barbers has assured law enforcement agencies of the committee’s full support for their anti-illegal drugs operations in terms of budgetary support and passage of laws and amendment of existing laws that will boost their enforcement capabilities.

“Rest assured that each of our committee members will always be there to support you. Kakampi ninyo kami. Magkakasama tayo sa giyerang ito. Lahat tayo potential victims ng mga drug addicts at drug pushers. We will definitely give you what you need, as much as we can. We will provide you with the necessary tools with respect to laws that we will craft in the future or perhaps amend existing laws. We will also give you budgetary support so we will have enough ammunition against our enemies who are the drug lords,” Barbers said.

Rep. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan) has expressed full support for the plan to hold a Drug Summit. He proposed to the committee on education and awareness of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs to also include the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) so that the country may learn about the best practices being undertaken by other countries in addressing the illegal drugs problem.

De Venecia also batted for the inclusion of the National Youth Commission in the inter-agency’s education and awareness committee since most of those affected by the drug problem are young people aged 20 to 29 years old. “Sila po yung pinaka-apektado,” de Venecia said.

Meanwhile Rep. Harry Roque (Party-list, Kabayan) asked the PNP what lesson it learned from the surrender of tens of thousands of drug pushers. According to Police Director Benjamin Magalong, the PNP Acting Deputy Chief for Operations, the information they have gathered about the drug problem is enormous, confidential and very sensitive: “At the moment I cannot reveal to you the nature of this information. But we have a better picture of the drug situation.”